Posts Tagged Marco Paulo Carneiro
by Marco Paulo Carneiro
How well are we doing at knowing our patrons? Many of them were with us the week before, and they’re back to see our show a second or third time, this time with friends. Are we doing enough to remember them, and truly say thank you for their support? Are we recognizing their continued contributions and applause, their commitment to our work through the good and bad times? Some of them are what allow us to exist (especially for we Fringe-ers).
There is so much (necessary) talk about what we can do to create an interactive experience for our audience. But how far can this go if the audience doesn’t feel they could comfortably fit in with us at a mixer, post-show talk or even in a piece of interactive theater? We should know our regulars. Remember their faces, remember their “orders,” try to remember their name and make sure they know who you are. Find out what their needs are, what would make for a better patron experience. Invite their thoughts in person. Online forums and discussion boards are invaluable, but I guarantee they will feel like they are literally part of our team if you take some time –make some time- to get their views right there in the theater. And feeling like a team member leads to dedicated patrons who are just as excited for the next production as you are. They might not be the hotshot reviewer you want to impress, but their insight and opinions -especially when they start contrasting past, current and future plans for repertoire, facilities, etc- are incredible ways of knowing if what we’re doing is clear and consistent with our mission and vision; their opinion is a way of knowing if we’re having an affect at all. They wield incredible sway power within their own communities and can help make or break the public success of our work, even if the success isn’t what we’re after. They help keep us grounded so that we don’t overlook the basics. And all of that makes for the beginnings of a great foundation for dialogue-driven community.
In the end, knowing our patrons is all about the community we’re all building together with each passing day of readings, productions, exhibitions and conversations. Knowing them gives us feedback, provides us with loyal support, and allows us to keep growing in our Boston community. The more we know our patrons, the more they’ll want to know us. So please, take some time to remember who gets the extra-toasted bagel. It could be the best thing you’ll ever do to help keep the homegrown movement alive.
By Marco Paulo Carneiro
I’m still working towards my undergraduate degree, and it’s been a long way coming. Granted, I took time off/sometimes lightened the course load in order to work some fantastic freelance gigs and develop self-started arts opportunities throughout Boston and beyond. I even got paid! But, as grateful as I am for all of those wonderful jobs, I’ve always had to look for part-time work to put some extra coins in the piggy bank. For the most part, it’s been in retail or the food industry.
For a while now I’ve worked at a coffee shop. While serving out beverages and pastries, you start to remember the regulars who come in everyday ordering the same drink or asking for their bagel to be extra toasted. From there, we start being able to converse with them about the products they like, what they did on the weekend, and how their grandmother’s gallbladder surgery went (if nothing else, it helps pass the time when they’re awkwardly staring at you, impatient for the milk to finish steaming…) Right then and there, we’ve connected and discovered something about our customers, and we’re also able to find special ways to fill their needs. All this is from simple conversation – the “filler” stuff. For some of us, it’s only natural that we should remember and be able to create this experience; they come in everyday and we are good at making those connections. For others, it’s actually a big effort to remember so they too can make the customer feel welcomed and known while expediting a regular’s order. Either way, the customer will walk away feeling appreciated and special; we accomplish that much through simple conversation and maybe even a familiar smile.
Now, I go out of my way to treat retail and food service workers well; I know how hard they are working – I’ve been there, I sympathize. But, it’s not often I get that special treatment I try to give out, mostly because I’m not really a regular anywhere. But when it does happen, I have to admit it feels great. Suddenly you’re a VIP whose name and needs everyone knows and the other people around can only wish they had their product delivered with such love. Right? (RIGHT?) Anyway, you can imagine how great I felt when I had a similar experience when I walked into a small-town, family-owned, homegrown bakery while visiting my parents over the holidays. I hadn’t been there in years and I was bundled up with a scarf and furry hat covering most of my face. I was hardly halfway through the door when the saleswoman looked up, remembered me from at least five years earlier and said, “You’re picking up for Olivia?” (Olivia is my mother). To think that after years of being away and being half-mummified in polyester-blend winter wear, she could still remember me and whose son I am. Maybe she just has a good memory; she certainly has a flair for being familiar with customers. And she even thanked me for coming in again. “Again.” As if I was just there the week before. And that’s where this is going.
About the Author
Marco Carneiro is the Managing Artistic Director of the Boston Stage Company. www.bostonstagecompany.org